This page is about the temporal nature of information organisation. In it’s simplest form that would be the cross-over between wikis with their timeless WikiNature, and blogs with their ever increasing layering of DatePage after DatePage, always invalidating older pages but never actually replacing them.

LionKimbro once observed that all organization of information is time-based, and that tags, as an example of how information can be organised, are also time dependent. Once the wiki has thousands of pages, the work of a decade or two ­– or more! – it is no longer enough to search for “all the pages” with a particular tag. Was it a recent page? Was it an old page? Was it written around the time of the first Iraq war? Around the time blogs were invented? The time when TSR made D&D PDFs available online? Was it written in The Age of Facebook?

Sometimes the age of a page can be determined easily. If you’re using a DatePage, then you can search for all the pages with a particular tag, and filter the page titles by year, for example. It’s crude but it’s a start.

I’ve also started investing more into the sorting of search results, in the same crude fashion. When searching for something, the results are sorted first by date descending (to get recent blog posts), and then alphabetically ascending (for regular wiki pages), with comments and images belonging to a date page sorted right after the date page itself, the idea being that current temporal information is always more important than anything else.

Alternatively, the creation year (or maybe all the years of major edits?) would have to be part of the indexed text. Then you could just search for pages with a particular tag, a particular phrase, and add 2006, for example, and the information retrieval system would know that this was a year, and that all the pages are also tagged with their year of creation, and that would be cool.

Or more poetically, imagine a community naming eras. Let’s see. Where do we start?

There’s a page called “The current Era”. The current era is “The year of the iron rat”, or “The years of Google+”. That already tells us that naming an era is tricky. Would you call this era of Facebook? Or is Facebook already “something old people do” (which is what the daughter of a friend said a few years ago)… So is this the era of Instagram? Mastodon?

OK, so this was a mistake. Let’s try something different. Every page that’s being created is tagged invisibly as belong to “the current era.” Every now and then the community comes together and says, “you know what? New era!!” And then they pick a point in time and say: any page still tagged “the current era” and created before this point in time belongs to “The Post Snowden Years” or whatever name the community picks.

Or even better: what we actually want the community to do is to share a vocabulary of eras, like using a name (of a page, for example) to stand in for an idea (the text on that page, for example), i.e. a LinkLanguage, they might also want to use a name for a period of time, for overlapping, independent periods of time, created much later, with beginnings and ends that might shift around.

On a Wiki, we might have a page called TaggedYears?. It might define such things as follows:

And so on. When searching, you can use these: “corona time:covid19” or “president time:generationX” or “e2e crypto time:postsnowden” – and you’d only get back pages created during those years. And, as you can see, a page created in 2020 was created both in the Post Snowden years, as well as during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.

Notice how the names I used are also valid page names, so we could write something about those years, on the pages whose name we used to tagged the time period…

For CommunityWiki, Epoch 2020 can be a perfect era. The original activity time can be named [[Epoch_primordial?]] and the time when this wiki has been a dead wiki can be named [[Epoch_cryo?]]. The names are subject to change.

The important part is that nobody wants to go back and manually tag all the pages – the software should do it, implicitly.

CategoryWiki CategoryBlog


Define external redirect: TaggedYears Epoch cryo PostSnowden GenerationX Epoch primordial